On the launch of HMS Queen Elizabeth on Monday, a group of journalists noted how the 280-metre craft is using the 2001 operating system in a world constantly threatened by cyber criminals.
According to The Times, the journalists saw a computer monitor with Windows XP logos on the ship, although it’s unclear whether every computer uses XP or just some.
A defense source speculates, as reported The Times that Windows XP was probably still being used by the ships IT was ordered in 2004, when the OS was relatively new, though it is completely out of date today.
The next system update for Queen Elizabeth and its sister vessel HMS Prince of Wales is due in the year 2026, so the presence of such outdated software is a legit source of worry for the stakeholders. The news is even more worrisome amidst the wave of ransomware and hackers wreaking havoc on systems all around the world, against which an outdated operating system that doesn’t receive security patches anymore would be utterly defenseless.
A similar situation knocked out dozens of IT systems at UK hospitals when attacked by the WannaCry virus just last month.
However, military officials were quick to placate the worries, iterating that the ship is not vulnerable to a cyber attack like the NHS since their systems are not directly connected to the civilian internet.
In a statement a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said:
“While we don’t comment on the specific systems used by our ships and submarines, we have absolute confidence in the security we have in place to keep the Royal Navy’s largest and most powerful ship safe and secure.”
Nevertheless, outdated computer software is just one of the many embarrassments revolving around the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier project, which was revealed after a six-year delay and millions of dollars worth cost overrun.